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|Location||White River National Forest|
Summit County, Colorado, United States
|Nearest city||Keystone, Colorado|
|Top elevation||12,408 feet (3,782 m)|
|Base elevation||9,280 feet (2,830 m)|
|Skiable area||3148 acres (12.7km²)|
|Longest run||Schoolmarm - 3.5 miles (5.6 km)|
|Lift system||20 total (2 gondolas, 11 chair lifts (two high speed six packs, four high speed quads, one fixed grip quad, one triple chairlift, three double chairlifts), seven surface lifts)|
|Snowfall||230 in/year (5.8 m/year)|
|Night skiing||15 trails|
Keystone Resort is a ski resort located in Keystone, Colorado, United States. Since 1997 the resort has been owned and operated by Vail Resorts. It consists of three mountains – Dercum Mountain, North Peak, the Outback – and five Bowls (Independence, Erickson, Bergman, North and South Bowls) offering skiing at all levels. The three mountains are connected by a series of ski lifts and gondolas. Keystone offers night skiing on Dercum Mountain during the Thanksgiving holiday and mid-December through March. The night skiing schedule changes every year so check their website for hours of operation.
Keystone is known also for its five-acre resurfaced skating lake, sleigh rides and several Zagat-rated four- and five-star restaurants. There are over 3,000 condos in Keystone, all within a short walk or free shuttle ride to one of the two base areas called River Run and Mountain House.
In summer, Keystone provides lift access for mountain hiking, events and hundreds of miles of single-track mountain biking.
In the 1940s, Max Dercum left his job as a forestry professor and ski racing coach at Penn State University to work for the Forest Service as a forester and fire spotter in Colorado. He and his wife Edna first lived in Georgetown before settling on a ranch, just outside the village of Keystone. They quickly developed a reputation for having fun. From sledding down Loveland Pass at night, with the following car’s headlights the only illumination, to Max’s turn as a rodeo clown at the summer rodeo, to the clarinet and piano music they would entertain with, fun was the Dercums’ business.
But more than anything, they loved skiing. They skied at the Climax Mine, Loveland and Berthoud Passes, Loveland Ski Area and Steamboat. After a race at Loveland Pass, Max filed mining claims for land around an alpine cirque that he hoped to develop into a ski area. Along with Larry Jump (10th Mountain Division) and Sandy Schauffler they developed Arapahoe Basin into a ski area which opened in December 1946. Max served as the "Head Coach" of the ski school and Edna quickly followed as the first female instructor at the school.
Founding the Resort
From the porch at the Dercums’ Ski Tip Ranch (named after the broken ski tips, which were repurposed into door handles) Max and Edna overlooked Keystone Mountain. With his knowledge of forestry and skiing, Max determined that it would be a perfect place for a ski area. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Max hiked every inch of the mountain, drawing up plans for the area. He even created a papier-mâché model of the mountain ranges and painted his dream ski area on it. After discussing this dream at a New Year’s party (1968-1969), Bill Bergman, a corporate lawyer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also fell in love with the idea of Keystone. At 3 am New Year’s Day, Bill and Max made a handshake deal to found Keystone International, with a goal to create a year round mountain resort.
The summers of 1969 and 1970 was nothing but action and activity. Bill and Max wanted to respect the mountain environment and history of the area in the development of a year-round resort. They hired lumbermen to hand cut the ski trails, which Max laid out to follow the natural contours of the mountain. Rather than build additional roads on the mountain, they utilized the old timber and mining roads and installed the lift towers with helicopters. To preserve the views in the village, the Keystone Lodge’s lobby was placed even with the highway, but it is on the 5th floor, with the rest of the hotel facing the mountain, descending to the Snake River. A wetland easement was also included in the development so no building would be directly on the Snake River.
Keystone opened on November 21, 1970 and a lift ticket cost $5 opening season.
1976 Winter Olympics
Independence Mountain was an Olympic finalist and nearly selected for the signature alpine skiing downhill event for the ill-fated 1976 Winter Olympic Games initially awarded to Denver, USA. Lands owned by the Denver Water Board at the base of Independence Mountain were given serious consideration by the Forest Service as an alternative second base area for Keystone ski area to reduce vehicle and skier congestion at the existing portals, and as an alternative ski lift connection and new portal serving the backside of Arapahoe Basin ski area. Speculation about conflicts in the Snake River Valley with the lynx reintroduction program stifled further study and land allocation. Prior to formal expansion of Keystone ski area onto Independence Mountain this terrain was under permit by multiple guide and outfitters in the 1970s and 80s using snowcats and helicopters for alpine skiing.
North Peak opened for skiing in 1984. Two trails, Diamond Back and Mozart allow access to North Peak from Keystone Mountain. North Peak initially featured 7 trails. In 1990, the resort opened the Outback. Today, the Outback is known for quick access to bowl skiing, including a cash-only Cat Ski operation that takes skiers and snowboarders to near the top of Wapiti Peak without requiring a reservation.
Teller Lift Accident
The Teller Lift was a Yan 1000 model triple chair installed in 1984 by Lift Engineering, when Keystone expanded into the North Peak. The following year the upper bullwheel disconnected from the main gearbox shaft. Faulty welding was blamed. Two people were killed and 47 injured. The lift was rebuilt by Yan as the Ruby lift, free of charge. Settlements between Yan and injured skiers topped over seven million dollars.
- Base: 9,280 feet (2,830 m)
- Summit: 12,408 feet (3,782 m)
- Vertical Rise: 3,128 feet (953 m)
- Skiable Area: 3,148 acres (12.74 km2)
- Trails: 135 total (19% beginner, 32% intermediate, 49% advanced/expert)
- Bowls: Independence, Bergman, Erickson, North, and South
- Longest Run: Schoolmarm - 3.5 miles (5.6 km)
- Average Annual Snowfall: 230 inches (580 cm)
- Terrain Parks:
- The A51 Terrain Park, a section of the resort with various features including for trick performance.
- 51 rails and funboxes.
- North: 47%
- East: 13%
- West: 30%
- South: 10%
- 21 total
- 2 gondolas, River Run and Outpost
- 2 high-speed six person chair lifts, Montezuma Express, Ruby Express
- 4 high-speed quad chair lifts, Summit Express, Peru Express, Santiago Express, Outback Express
- 1 quad chair lift, Wayback
- 1 triple chair lift, Ranger
- 3 double chair lifts, A-51, Argentine, and Discovery
- 8 surface lifts, 2 Midway Carpets, Kokomo Carpet, 2 Double Barrel Carpets, Triangle Carpet, Ski School Carpet, Tubing Hill Carpet
During the summer, visitors to Keystone resort often participate in hiking, horseback riding, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, paddle boat and stand up paddle board rentals and mountain biking.
Keystone Resort is also home to two 18-hole championship golf courses, The Ranch and River Run. The Ranch course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and is situated next to a historic ranching homestead.
Keystone ski area operates on National Forest System lands under special use permit to the Forest Service. The 30-year special use permit assigns to the permit holder only a portion of the bundle of rights normally associated with real estate ownership. For the privilege of using federal lands the ski area pays an annual fee of about one dollar per skier visitor to the U.S. Treasury. Twenty-five percent of those fees are returned to Summit County, Colorado, for roads and schools. The Forest Service approves all master development plan revisions, environmental impact statements, summer and winter operations plans, and construction plans prior to opening. The 1984 Land and Resource Management Plan and 2002 Revision, authored by Erik Martin, Program Manager for Ski Area Administration (1972–2003), WRNF, established the final expanded boundary perimeter for Keystone Resort, including eventual expansion of developed skiing onto Independence Mountain. The 2002 Forest Plan Revision suggested an aerial transportation corridor and south portal be constructed in the Swan Valley to provide direct access between Keystone ski area and the Town of Breckenridge to improve traffic safety, reduce vehicle congestion, decrease dust and hydrocarbon emissions, and increase skier convenience.
- Terrain and Lift Status Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- Strand., Dercum, Edna (1981). It's easy, Edna, it's downhill all the way. Carbondale, Colo.: Sirpos Press. ISBN 0960646000. OCLC 8721688.
- Bergman, Bill. By Chance - The Founding of Keystone Resort.
- UPI (December 18, 1985). "Faulty Weld Is Blamed For Ski Lift Accident". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- "Best Ski Resorts: Keystone Resort Terrain, Snow Quality and Mountain Ranks". ZRankings. ZRankings, LLC. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- Annie Fast (December 3, 2009). "TransWorld's Top Ten Parks". Snowboarding Transworld. Retrieved June 16, 2018.